I have a pair of stuffed animals, a little horse and cow, that I've had since I was born and they're extremely special to me; they sleep in my bed every night and ride in my bag everywhere I travel. They're worn threadbare from twenty-four years of hugging and they're filled with as much love as a human can pour into an object.
And long ago I decided that they could never see me have sex. If I have a boy over, or if I'm going to masturbate, Horsie and Cowie have to go under the pillow. Their little eyes have to be shielded. Partly because they represent my childhood, but mostly because they're... special. They're innocent. And much as I protest that sex is innocent and carries no inherent "dirt," in this one area I cannot practice what I preach.
The local fetish club (ahem, sex-positive community center, it's a very cool organization but it's a fetish club and doesn't need to kid itself) sends out a weekly mailer with their activities and I was surprised to see they had events on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It seems sad somehow. I know not everyone can or wants to be with family on Christmas, lots of people don't celebrate it at all, but... it's Christmas, man. I'm Jewish and the thought of spending Christmas at a fetish club strikes me as unbearably depressing.
There's a deeply ingrained hatred for the simple pleasures of the flesh in our culture. We hate the slut, the glutton, the layabout, the drunk, not just for the consequences of their actions but for the cheap dirty pleasure they're giving themselves. They didn't earn that! The only guiltless joys are hard-won. (Maybe this is why an "easy" woman is looked down on.) Pleasure without accomplishment feels secretly immoral.
It goes against sex-positivity and the general semi-hippie social mores of the Internet, but this anti-pleasure sentiment isn't all bad. The nagging sense that the pleasure of orgasm isn't as "real" as the pleasure of climbing a mountain is what drives people to achieve, rather than simply enjoy. If everything I need to be happy is right between my legs, why bother being human? Why learn, why explore, why create?
I think this is the origin of sex-negativity, of much-maligned concepts like Protestant work ethic and Catholic guilt and Jewish guilt. It's the root of slut-shaming and homophobia and Promise Rings. It's why monks and priests are celibate and why Americans can't go to the beach naked. And it's also, kinda, the basis of humanity.
Pleasure-negativity sucks balls when you're trying to have a fun night out or a funner night in. But pleasure-negativity is also what gets you out of bed in the morning. The ability to think beyond your next fuck or next meal separates humans from animals. It's a shame that we get all down on fucking and eating, since they're fine and joyous pastimes, but I think we have to hold a little prejudice against earthly pleasures to drive us to greater things.
I hate feeling guilty about fucking, but I need to feel guilty about not going to work, and I think the two are inextricably tied.
Promise Rings are still pretty stupid though.